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Etsy Tests a Fix to Its Search Engine Clumping Problem

Etsy told sellers concerned about a lack of exposure in search results that it was testing a fix to address “clumping” in search. Jaime DeLanghe, Product Manager on the Etsy Search team, provided the update in a thread on the Etsy discussion boards on Wednesday afternoon.

EcommerceBytes has been following the problem, which was reported by sellers, first through a blog post on October 13th. As we explained, some sellers said page 1 of search results tended to contain diverse results, but after that, they saw the pattern of a few shops dominating results on the remaining pages.

Etsy acknowledged the problem last week, saying the clumping was a known issue that the company was investigating, but providing no details.

DeLanghe said Wednesday he wanted to take a minute to let those discussing the issue on the board “a little bit about how and why the team is working on addressing “clumping” in search results.”

The search team at Etsy is constantly working to show the most relevant items to buyers looking to make a purchase on Etsy. As a marketplace full of unique goods, we’re also dedicated to showing the breadth of items for sale – in many cases, a buyer doesn’t even know their ideal item exists until they’ve seen it. As a team, we work to keep these sometimes competing goals in balance.

Right now, we’re working on improving the variety of items in search results, because, like you, we want to make sure that buyers understand that Etsy’s full of unique items – not just more of the same thing.

Some of you have seen a test that we’re currently running to address the issue. As always, we’re monitoring this test to make sure the search changes aren’t having a negative effect on the marketplace.

That said, this problem is multi-faceted and won’t be solved by any one change. Like relevance, variety is something we’ll continuously work to improve upon.

Thanks, everyone, for speaking so passionately about these issues. I’ve been following along in the forums and you’ve really helped me to better understand all sides of the problem.

The full post is found on this thread on the Etsy boards.

Sellers who first reported the problem likely feel vindicated, as often users face criticism that they are too negative about the marketplaces on which they sell.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog (from October 13th).

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.